iRobot is negotiating with the University of Washington to expand a technology license agreement. I am here to conduct technical due diligence (assessing risk and development cost). My meeting lasted all day and was quite productive. For dinner I was joined by good friends, Rob and Cindy Shurtleff as well as my mentee from the MIT Gordon Engineering Leadership program, Nora, and her fiance Simon. We enjoyed sharing tapas at the Terra Plata (earth to plate) organic restaurant in the Capitol Hill neighborhood (roughly equivalent to NYC’s Greenwich Village). It was truly a memorable evening and I was thrilled to introduce my friends to each other.
I left the house at 4AM this morning for the airport. Today is a travel day to Seattle where I have business at the University of Washington tomorrow. I traded the ridiculously early flight for an early arrival in the Emerald City permitting some photography in the late afternoon. My first stop, pictured above is Snoqualimie Falls of Twin Peaks fame. I was not able to hike to the bottom due to construction but was lucky to catch them at peak flow. My next stop was to Kerry Park which offers the classic view of the Seattle Space Needle and skyline. I was fortunate to catch a brief window without rain and a clear view of Mount Rainier some 60 miles in the distance.
My final stop was Seattle Center which is a treasure trove of photographic inspiration.
Boston has its Marathon… Pamplona has the bulls… New Orleans has Mardi Gras… San Francisco has the historic Bay to Breakers 12k run.
The 101-year old event is one of the world’s largest and oldest footraces, held annually in San Francisco. The name reflects the traditional course which takes tens of thousands of participants from the northeast end of the downtown area near The Embarcadero (the “bay” side of the city) to the west end of the city and the “breakers” of Ocean Beach. The 7.46 mile (12 kilometer) race features world-class athletes in addition to costumed runners and ‘fun-loving’ folks out for a great day of running and walking through San Francisco.
Kyle and a group of his college friends participated in this years event and he just sent us this photo. More than 30 years ago, while at Stanford, my college roommate and I also ran in the race. I am glad Kyle embraced the spirit of the spectacle by wearing what appears to be a monkey hat. My conventional track suit stuck out like a sore thumb in a field which included a 100 person centipede and several naked runners. Only in California.
Less than 15 minutes from Ferry Beach I never fail to visit the Scarborough Marsh, Maine’s largest salt water marsh. It is a wonderful bird sanctuary and one of my favorite photographic subjects in this neck of the woods.
My team’s soccer match against Hudson this morning proved to be an epic battle. We secured an early goal and defended vigorously until the final minutes when we put the match out of reach with a second goal. This victory gives us a first place finish in Division 2 and guarantees promotion to Division 1 in the fall. I took great caution (jets dialed down to 95%) to keep from re-injuring my hamstring and saw a lot of action. I had a nice midfield run beating a couple of defenders to set up our final goal.
I spent the balance of the day configuring a new computer which is blissfully faster than my last one. As image sizes continue to increase and my photo library expands this upgrade was more of a necessity than a luxury.
Ferry Beach means different things to each member of our family. Jeanine enjoys biking, socializing on the porch or beach, and playing games in the evening. Up until two years ago her favorite activity was preparing meals for the camp in its industrial strength kitchen. This is now handled by the camp staff and I know she still misses the opportunity to cook with big pots. Maya enjoys the talent show, running in and out of the waves on the beach, playing “nukem” (an odd variant of volleyball) and being reunited with her twin, Maia (pronounced Maya) Rose Pedula, pictured here in the first portrait. The girls share first and middle names and are like peas in a pod. Nicolai enjoys hanging out with the other teenagers in his peer group and is always the first to initiate a serious game of volleyball or to compete in the croquet tournament. Kyle always enjoyed Ferry Beach and we really miss not having him with us this year.
I usually bring my kayak but this year with only one day to spend at camp I focused on my other passion, photographing all the kids. Pictured here are some of my favorites from this year. The complete album can be viewed at this link.
I need to return to Concord this evening for a pivotal soccer match tomorrow morning against Hudson. A win will guarantee our team promotion to Division 1 and I want to ensure a restful night’s sleep before the match. I was awakened at 4am this morning by Maya’s snoring and was not able to fall back to sleep after I got up to rotate her off her back.
Memorial Day weekend is synonymous with Ferry Beach for the Calabria’s. Each year we travel to Maine for a Unitarian Universalist church retreat with members of Concord’s and Lexington’s First Parish congregations. My favorite iRobot benefit is a summer hours program allowing folks who have already worked 40 hours to take off at noon on Friday’s. I used this option to get a head start on the two hour drive avoiding the otherwise brutal traffic. After the sun set I put a recently acquired camera through its paces as I photographed Maya and her friends playing with glow sticks in near total darkness.
I watched this little fellow as he jumped from branch to branch munching away on the tiny blooms and buds of this tree. Not clear to me where all the food was going as every photo I took shows him with a beak full of food. Occasionally he would swoop down to the ground for a worm or grub. Unlike some of the other birds I have photographed, this guys is very easy to keep track of.
Nicolai recently began testing a new pair of crutches from SideStix with prototype grips. In the background, I have been negotiating with the co-founders on an agreement to formalize his relationship with the company. We are hopeful that this will result in a mutually advantageous arrangement for both the company and Nicolai. Details to follow if the deal comes to fruition. Nicolai has been a very effective ambassador for the company over the years and his field testing of their new products has led to design changes that have substantially improved the durability of the crutches.
Following our strategic offsite meeting yesterday, the iRobot board met today for the company’s annual shareholder meeting and a review of current operating results. I did a presentation covering the recent restructuring of the engineering organization which went very well. For a second night in a row I was invited to join the board for dinner, this time as they celebrated the service of one of the company’s co-founders and former Chairman, Helen Greiner. Helen had just returned from Peru and had hiked the Inca trail. We enjoyed comparing notes on the climb and I learned that we also shared Kilimanjaro and the Kalalau trails in common. I enjoyed hearing stories from the early years of iRobot and getting to know members of the board better. Colin Angle, our current CEO, presented Helen with photos of two pedestal mounted robots she had helped to develop. The installations were too massive to transport to the restaurant and will be delivered later. All in all a very enjoyable evening.
Each year the iRobot Board of Directors and senior management participate in a day long off-site strategy planning session. Today we listened to briefs by the former President of Bose and a colleague regarding their entry into the Chinese market, a professor at the University of New Hampshire on the cultural underpinnings of intellectual property theft in China, and by President Obama’s Cyber Security Czar on threats in a networked digital age. We also heard from a board member on trends in consumer spending in the current economic environment and finally a look at defense spending projections. Following these presentations we worked in small teams to formulate major strategic themes for iRobot for the next 3-5 years. Afterwards a large subset of the participants shared dinner together and I enjoyed getting to know many of them better.
After three weeks off the pitch I tested my hamstring this morning in our match against Sudbury. When we had established a nice lead I went on in short shifts and was careful to avoid any full tilt sprints. It was great to get some touches on the ball and to rebuild my endurance. I had a nice intercept and assist on our final goal but more importantly did not re-injure my hamstring. We easily won by a margin of 6-0 keeping our undefeated record in tact. Nicolai and I worked together to repair the bumper on the Smart Car during the afternoon. He failed to slow down sufficiently for a speed bump at school and tore off the bumper and the undercarriage splash guard. When he learned that the repair would cost $1600 by the dealer he was all to happy to assist me as we did the work ourselves. He will still have to purchase a few parts to complete the repairs but it is unlikely the total bill will exceed $100. Later in the day Jeanine alerted me to the presence of a snake that she encountered on her walk around the neighborhood. I was all too happy to go after it with my camera.
After a week of what seemed like constant rain the weekend is off to a spectacular start with high temperatures in the forecast for tomorrow. Perfect weather for harvesting hay. A local farmer comes a couple of times per year to cut and bail the grass which grows in the field behind our house. Jeanine and I watched Maya’s soccer match in the morning, had lunch with her at Helen’s after the game and enjoyed a nature walk on the Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary grounds late in the afternoon where love was in the air.
It was nice to receive an e-mail from Kyle this morning including this photo taken by a friend. Apparently his date invited him to the school formal (facts here are a little fuzzy) and he had a great time. Kyle really seems to be enjoying his first year of college. He has done very well scholastically and continues to find great relevance of the class work to his ever expanding Yard Dogs business. We are looking forward to his return which regrettably is later than most schools. Perhaps at that time we will learn more details of his mystery date.
Maya seeks to quench her thirst after completing the 4x400m relay at her track meet this afternoon. She also ran in the 800m event. Her form continues to improve and she looked very fast in the relay despite the fact that she is suffering from shin splints. She is currently dancing, running track and playing soccer so it is not too hard to figure out why she is developing this painful condition. If the situation does not improve, we will have to cut back on one or more of these activities.
I can’t ever recall seeing Nicolai so well dressed over the course of a single week. Today is the first of three during which he will argue Roe v Wade in front of his Constitutional Law class. He and a partner will argue Roe while two other students will present Wade in front of the entire class which will question them as if the Supreme Court. It seems like a very powerful way to teach this course and I know Nico has worked hard preparing himself for the assignment. Other landmark decisions will be argued by the rest of the class providing everyone a first row seat to our constitution at work. Nico, I have often thought, would make a good lawyer. It will be interesting to see how he fares in this highly charged and competitive class exercise.